Over the past few years, there has been an increase in concern and discussion about older adults’ behavioral health. 20% of people over the age of 55 have some form of mental health, and mental health challenges for older adults can affect many aspects of health and wellness but often go undiagnosed and treated.
Our Chief Psychology Officer, Sherie Friedrich, talked with Dr. Nick van Terheyden, host of Dr. Nick The Incrementalist, on an episode entitled “Life After 60”. They covered the general struggles of older adults being underserved and treated for behavioral health and how MediTelecare™ enables individualized psychotherapy, cognitive care plan, and specialized care via telehealth.
Click here to listen to the full episode, or keep reading to learn more about the key takeaways and their conversation.
Historically, treatment for older adults has been narrowly focused on medicating patients to manage various symptoms, including but not limited to dementia, depression, and more. Thankfully, over the past decade, we have recognized that there is more to emotional well-being than treating patients’ symptoms.
Many first-line approaches can be taken when an older adult is struggling, including nonpharmacological intervention and psychotherapy. However, as behavioral health continues to evolve, it is essential to ensure quality, specialized care is accessible to patients, whether that be in homes, nursing facilities, or underserved rural areas.
Although COVID-19 has challenged society in many ways, it has opened an opportunity to address and understand mental health challenges and tribulations that older adults experience. For example, nursing homes, assisted living, and long-term care facilities are often avoided because facing reality and the profound sadness of seeing friends and family being cared for can be challenging. However, as we started to see patients and family members isolated from society, it shined a light on the psychological struggles people were experiencing due to loneliness.
Early in the pandemic, people were “dying from loneliness,” and there was no explanation for these individuals passing in facilities other than isolation. COVID helped the world recognize the lack of behavioral health care available to older patients and enabled families and facilities to leverage services like MediTelecare™ to build better, more accessible care.
It is important to recognize that, at some point, there will be a time when we all require a higher level of care. What do we want that care to look like for ourselves and our family members? What are solutions that enable quality behavioral health services?
It can be challenging to receive specialized care in rural, underserved areas. Telehealth services break down the geographic barriers and open doors for patients who don’t see their families often or require intensive, individualized psychotherapy.
As a society, we must erase the narrative that older adults are not adaptable to technology. In our practice, we often see that our patients can and do adapt. Constant interaction with specialists and family members via telehealth substantially improves their quality of life.
Essential Health Care Worker Retention
Specialized health care workers are quickly leaving the field. The people that take care of our loved ones feel marginalized and underappreciated. As practices, we have to value these employees and support their development and continual learning while also showing appreciation because they bring a lot to the table and support the infrastructure of care for older adults.
Striving for excellence when treating older adults is something we adopt at MediTelecare™. Measuring a patient’s progress based on their psychological well-being is tricky. Using data points with technologies that MediTelecare™ provides allows for continuous documentation of the patient’s well-being. As we track the improvement of each patient, we take several first-line approaches, including nonpharmacological intervention and psychotherapy, before treating patients with medication.
Now that we have established care through a healthy, wellness-centered approach, the future of behavioral health for older adults is bright. The first step was recognizing the needs of older adults, and we’ve done that. From here, we must build on the work we’ve started and continue improving care through access to technology, data and retaining essential health care workers.
How MediTelecare™ Can Help
Meditelecare™ is a behavioral health organization focused on the psychiatric and psychological needs of older adults aging in various settings, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and long-term care facilities. Our mission is to improve access to care for residents in these communities via technology and bring a care facilitator to the patients. In addition, we enable consistent quality engagement for the patients, staff, and their families.
MediTelecare’s™ trained providers can appropriately diagnose behavioral issues and treat older individuals through a patient-centered approach that uses defined clinical protocols. This ensures patients are treated with appropriate and safer medications and even non-pharmacologic options when possible, lowering the risk for adverse outcomes such as hospitalizations and medication side effects.
To see how MediTelecare’s™ comprehensive telehealth program can provide older adults with ongoing access to world-class clinicians in your community, reach out today!